Friday, 27 November 2009

Jaufré fetches up in Barsetshire

A novel by Angela Thirkell (1890-1961), writer of genteel novels mostly set in Anthony Trollope's fictional Barsetshire, confirms the impression that the Rudel legend was part of the English 'classical education' around the turn of the century (see also Madeleine Bassett's dreamy waxing in PG Wodehouse's Code of the Woosters). Northbridge Rectory (1941) features a conversation about Rudel in which Thirkell has polite fun with a few troubadour clichés. Click on the image for the two relevant pages (pardon the ancient photocopy - and I hope nobody gets too worked up about copyright, but if so, let me know and I'll remove it).

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Epic treatment

Back in 1993, I was hunting down a lengthy treatment of the Rudel legend by an obscure 19th-century poet named John Graham (a Fellow of Wadham College, Oxford), and finally found a copy in the British Library. I ordered the whole, epic thing on microfiche. That was what you had to do back then.

I reproduced a few stanzas in the Outremer anthology and thought about transcribing the whole thing at some point. Good thing I didn't, because Jaufré Rudel or, The Pilgrim of Love is now online at All 137 pages of it. It isn't all that bad, in fact. Some nice imagery and turns of phrase. It's just very long.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Carducci and Leopardi on Rudel

The Italian poet and academic Giosué Carducci (1835-1907), winner of the 1906 Nobel Prize for Literature, lectured on Rudel. He also wrote his own treatment of the legend. If your Italian's up to it (sadly mine isn't), you can check out both on this site.

'Consalvo', a poem by another Italian, Giacomo Leopardi (1798-1837), is also believed to be inspired by the Rudel story. You can find 'Consalvo' in the original Italian over at wikisource.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Rudel goes opera

The Rudel legend got a fairly limp treatment from Edmond Rostand (La Princesse Lointaine preceded his Cyrano de Bergerac by two years); it's also the subject of an opera, L'amour de loin, by the Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho (premiered in 2000), which I understand suffers from some of the same faults. For an idea, read a very nicely done review on this chap's blog.

Let's face it, Jaufré is no action hero. Which could explain why, despite the scores of renditions of the Rudel legend by some of literature's big hitters, he's still not all that well known.